After long delay, Hebard ready for next playoff round in Turkey
Even though it’s taken longer than expected, Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks is determined to finish what she started in the Turkish Super League.
Her team is expected to return to the basketball court soon after its second-round playoff series was put on hold for two weeks due to COVID protocol.
Hebard is eager to get back to making history with Nesibe Aydin, fresh off picking up her first playoff series win as a pro player last month after third-seeded Nesibe swept No. 6 Mersin in the best-of-3 series.
“It felt great winning the first round of the playoffs,” Hebard said. “I think it gave the team, including myself, a whole lot more confidence moving forward.”
Hebard, of West Valley High fame, furnished a Rookie-of-the-Year-type season with Nesibe in leading the team to its first playoff series win in the country’s premier women’s basketball league.
Nesibe was promoted from the second division this year and signed Hebard, who has lifted the franchise to new heights.
The 6-foot-4 forward led her team in scoring (19.6) and rebounding (11.6) in 28 games during the regular season.
She was a five-time Turkish Super League Player of the Week pick and posted season highs of 34 points and 20 rebounds.
“I have been playing almost 40 minutes in Turkey, learning lots about myself and my game,” Hebard said.
“I think that is going to translate to the WNBA.”
Hebard was a first-round draft pick by the Chicago Sky in last year’s WNBA draft. She averaged 5.7 points in 22 games as a rookie with a career-high of 22 points – tied for the most by an Alaskan in the WNBA.
In Turkey, she has played with and against a bunch of WNBA players.
Hebard plays alongside Shay Peddy of the Phoenix Mercury with Nesibe (21-7).
In the semifinals, Hebard will face a Galatasara team featuring Mercedes Russell of the Seattle Storm and Angel McCoughtry of the Las Vegas Aces.
Waiting in the league finals is 31-0 Fenerbahc, which features four WNBA players in Jasmine Thomas of the Connecticut Sun, Kayla McBride of the Minnesota Lynx, Kiah Stokes of the New York Liberty and Satou Sabally of the Dallas Wings.
Hebard and Sabally were teammates at the University of Oregon.
Top-seeded Fenerbahc swept No. 5 Cankaya in their semifinal series that ended April 7.
Hebard’s team will finally begin its semifinal series next week two weeks behind schedule.
“It’s a little disappointing to have to wait, but we’re not quite ready to finished up this great season.”
Hebard won’t have much of an offseason with WNBA training camp right around the corner, but she is excited to get back to Chicago.
“Being in Turkey made me miss my Chicago Sky family so much,” she said. “I can’t wait to get there and hug every single one of them.”